Demand from across the theatre and professional AV industries drove strong results in the Tiger Group’s recent auction of exhibition technology from Pacific Theatres. The movie chain, formerly one of North America's largest, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in March 2020 in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Tiger's globally marketed online auction featured 297 lots of equipment, including projectors, a state-of-the-art LED screen, cinema monitors, servers, amplifiers, media blocks and even popcorn makers, all from an initial group of closed Pacific Theatres locations.
"Ninety-nine percent of those lots were bid upon and sold to theatre owners, live event production companies, rental houses and other buyers," said Jonathan Holiday, director of business development, Tiger Commercial & Industrial. "We had 12,047 views and a total of 5,040 bids, with people from 57 countries watching the event live. The 40 winning bidders hailed primarily from across the United States and Canada, with registrants from as far away as Ukraine and France."
Sales of this type and size are rare, Holiday explained, and the Pacific Theatres name also enjoys widespread recognition. However, the ongoing recovery of movie theatres clearly was a factor as well. "We had quite a strong influx of theaters that participated in the auction sale, which is great to see," Holiday said. "These were the 'survivors'—those operators that managed to come through the difficult period with enough working capital to start positioning for the future."
Several of these operators bought late-model digital laser projectors. "These are the latest technologies that movie theaters are using for projection," Holiday noted. "Equipment upgrades certainly were part of the dynamic, underscored by sizable purchases from a major cinema chain in Canada."
Others—including mission-driven arthouse theaters that draw their support from charitable foundations—had the opportunity to purchase equipment that suited their budget, which would not have been the case with new gear, Holiday said.
Another standout: high-performance audio and speakers. "The amplifiers, processors and other sound equipment on offer were in great condition and performed extremely well thanks to the participation of several audio and speaker users and resellers, " Holiday said.
Also noteworthy was Tiger's successful sale of a 2019 Samsung LED screen with audio components. "It was one of just two such LED screens installed in the United States and drew strong interest," Holiday said.
Tiger Group is now gearing up for the next round of Pacific Theatres equipment sales—thousands of lots from ten closed locations (eight in California and one in each in Chicago and Bethesda, Maryland) with a combined 170-plus screens and gear valued at more than $4 million.
"Just as in our initial sale, these auctions will feature top brands like Christie, Dolby, NEC, GDC and QSC, with a great deal of the equipment being late-model and in excellent condition," Holiday said. "We anticipate strong demand once again and are finalizing the details as we speak."